Syrian rebel groups say will attend Astana peace talks

The meetings in Astana are hosted by regime backer Russia and rebel supporter Turkey, who are working closely to find an end to the Syrian conflict although they have backed opposing sides.

By: AFP | Beirut | Published: January 16, 2017 5:39:06 pm
syria, syria rebel groups, syrian war, aleppo, kazakhistan, astana, astana peace talks, jaish al islam, army of islam, mohammad alloush, kazakhistan peace talks, russia, turkey, syria news, world news, indian express Rebel fighters man a checkpoint on an entrance to al-Rai town, northern Aleppo countryside, Syria December 25, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Syrian rebel groups will attend talks in the Kazakh capital next week aimed at bringing an end to the country’s nearly six-year war, rebel officials said today. “All the rebel groups are going. Everyone has agreed,” said Mohammad Alloush, a leading figure in the Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) rebel group. “Astana is a process to end the bloodletting by the regime and its allies. We want to end this series of crimes,” Alloush said.

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Ahmad al-Othman from the Sultan Murad faction also told AFP that “the rebel groups have decided to go to the talks”.

The meetings in Astana are hosted by regime backer Russia and rebel supporter Turkey, who are working closely to find an end to the Syrian conflict although they have backed opposing sides.

The talks are set to begin on January 23.

Earlier this month, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he was “optimistic” about the talks and would be “ready for reconciliation with (rebels) on the condition that they lay down their arms”, according to the French lawmakers with whom he met.

US president-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has been invited to take part, but has not yet officially responded.

The talks are expected to build on a nationwide truce that began on December 30 and initially saw a drop in violence across many of Syria’s battlefronts.

The ceasefire excludes the Islamic State jihadist group and its rival, the Fateh al-Sham Front, which changed its name from Al-Nusra Front after breaking ties with Al-Qaeda last year.

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